SNP claim UK coalition putting savings ahead of security

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by G.A.Ponsonby

The SNP has attacked the Tory-Lib Dem coalition claiming UK Ministers are ignoring strategic security in favour of making defence cutbacks.

Responding to the publication of a report by the Defence Select Committee, the Nationalists warned that the cuts to defence risked leaving serious strategic and operational gaps in capabilities and again urged the shelving of Trident instead.

SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP, who gave evidence to the Committee, called the scrapping of the Nimrod fleet an “act of gross vandalism”.

Mr Robertson attacked the RAF cuts in Scotland, and said that the SNP’s success in the May Scottish Parliament election was the only reason that at long last Scotland was getting a fair share of army resources.

Mr Robertson said:

“It is clear that the UK Government is putting savings ahead of strategic security. This report confirms the long-standing concerns over gaps in strategic and operational capabilities which are now urgent.

“The example of scrapping Nimrod is a case in point. The destruction of these state-of-the-art aircraft was an act of gross vandalism and a scandalous waste of £4 billion in public money, but the true cost may be even greater given security and safety implications that the loss of this fleet creates.”

Mr Robertson repeated the concerns the SNP has raised over the disproportionate decline in Scotland’s defence footprint and claimed that further RAF cuts as a result of the basing review will hit Scotland further.

He added:

“These cuts compound the £5.6 billion underspend and 10,500 defence job losses Scotland has endured over the last decade.

“In terms of the welcome aspects of the basing review – specifically the army coming home to Scotland, so that at long last we get a fair share of army resources for the full share of spending we contribute – there is no question that the only reason this is happening is because of the SNP’s landslide victory in May.

“What the UK Government should be cutting is the unwanted, unusable, and obscenely expensive Trident nuclear weapons programme.

“All of which underlines that we should make defence policy decisions in Scotland for Scotland – and not leave it to London.”

The UK coalition has already announced the closure of RAF Leuchars and RAF Kinloss, RAF Lossiemouth remains the only functioning Scottish RAF base .  The timetable for extra troops to be deployed to the bases have yet to be finalised and there are fears that delays will lead to the local economy being hit during the transition.